Close skating race: .003 makes the difference

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 15, 2014 at 2:08 pm •  Published: February 15, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — In Alpine skiing, Koen Verweij would be an Olympic champion. But he is a speedskater, where just one thousandth of a second can make the difference between gold and silver medals.

In one of the closest Olympic speedskating races in history, Zbigniew Brodka of Poland beat the Dutchman by .003 over 1,500 meters Saturday, a margin so tiny that the scoreboard long gave it as a dead heat before finally pushing Verweij back into silver.

"We are talking pushing your skate an inch ahead at the finish," Verweij said, still dazed at the thought well after the race. "If I have to think of this tonight, I could get very sick."

Early this week Slovenia's Tina Maze and Switzerland's Dominique Gisin were each awarded the downhill gold with identical times of 1 minute, 41.57 seconds.

Unfortunately for Verweij, speedskating officials can track times to thousandths, not just hundredths of a second.

They clocked him at 1 minute 45.009 and Brodka at 1:45.006.

Brodka, who sat in the infield as Verweij was racing in the final pair, said he would not have it any other way.

"There should only be one Olympic champion. Even if I would have lost, there should only be one winner," Brodka said. With his victory assured, that was easy for him to say.

Verweij was stunned into silence.

At first, both skaters were given the same time, broken down to hundredths of a second, both with a "1'' beside their name.

Verweij's coach Gerard Kemkers knew the divider was coming and watched entranced the number beside his racer's name.

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